Monday, November 26, 2012

The Yes/No Series - Part One

Ways to Indicate Yes and No

There are so many ways we all say yes and no every day.  None of us is limited to just one means and our students should be either.  In teaching our students a yes/no response we aim for the most universal - verbal and/or head nod/shake (at least in the USA, in English) but if those are not possible any other system is better than none at all.  Here is a list of some I have seen used by people with significant special needs over the years:

  • Verbal response (yes/no, ok/no, yeah/nah, si/no, uh ha/ut ah)
  • Head Nod/Shake
  • Body Language (smile/frown, look/look away, reach/push away)
  • Pointing to symbols with
    • Finger
    • Hand
    • Foot
    •  Head
    •  Eyes
    • Other
  •  Activating a voice output switch
    •  Finger
    •  Hand
    •  Foot
    • Head
    • Eyes
    • Other
  • Activating a speech device
  • Yes/no wrist bands – raise hand or look at hand
  • Yes/no symbols on arm rest with hand movement or eye gaze to symbols
  • Sign yes/no (or sign approximations)
  • Eyes up for yes, eyes down for no (and vice versa)
  • Eyes left for yes, eyes right for no (and vice versa)
  •  Facial expressions – smile for yes, frown for no
  • Thumbs up/thumbs down
  • Look at partner for yes/look away for no
  • Yes/no cards
  • Yes/no wearable tag/necklace
  • Hold up fist for yes/open hand for no
  • Tongue click for yes, none for no
  • Eye brows up for yes/down for no (vice versa)
  • Lip raise for yes (smile) and nose wrinkle for no (sour face)
  • Point to chin for yes and nose for no
  • Clap for yes, tap tray for no
  • There's an app for that

Or any combination of a yes and a no from above!


  1. I love the wrist band idea! I've never seen those!

    Ms. Rachel
    Ms. Rachel’s Room

  2. Hi Kate,
    Really nice resource, as ususual.
    I do have an exception to the color semantics choice for yes/no though. Consider the 2-switch scanner where "No, not than one," means continue, or go on scanning. And, "Yes, I want that one," means stop scanning and pick that item.

    Also, I have oten considered, perhaps wrongly, that concepts like "I want," or "I like," and "I don't want," or "I don't like'" are often easier for students to grasp than a simple yes, or no. I will often combine the two for example as "Yes, I want that," or "No, I don't want that."


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